Connections celebrate I Am Eloquent’s win in the Listed Jim Moloney Stakes (Racing Photos)
You have to hand it to that mob from First Light. They’re Group One barrackers.
While others saw nothing but doom in the gloom as the favourites buckled in the Listed Aquis Jim Moloney Stakes over 1400m at Caulfield on Saturday, I Am Eloquent’s owners were cheering in the rain as their $31 pick proved too strong in the run home: notching up her maiden black type victory.
The I Am Invincible filly had previously won two from five – both on heavy tracks – but the considered ‘opinion’ was that I Am Eloquent would make heavy going of the step up in class.
That wasn’t the case though as the Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young trained 3YO surged to the lead at the 100m and held on strongly to the wire.
I Am Eloquent will now, according to Young, take on either the Group One Thousand Guineas over 1600m at Caulfield on 12 October, or try out another Group One ‘mile’ – the Flight Stakes – in Sydney a week earlier: “We always thought she’d be that Thousand Guineas type of girl and Saturday’s win shows we might be right on track,” an excited Young revealed.
It was a memorable day too for the First Light ‘family’ which also had 2018 Group One VRC Oaks winner, Aristia, resume with a seventh in the Group Three How Now at Caulfield.
“It’s shaping up to be an exciting spring,” enthused Tim Wilson, who co-founded First Light Racing in 2010. “The plan for Aristia is to head into the Group One Myer Classic at Flemington at her fourth run back and perhaps backup in the (Group One) Mackinnon the following week, while Saturday’s victory opens up a number of options for I Am Eloquent.”
With First Light purchasing around 25 to 30 yearlings annually, Wilson remembers being quite keen to purchase I Am Eloquent from the Two Bays Farm draft at the 2018 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, eventually paying $220,000 for the privilege.
“(Leading bloodstock agent) Paul Willetts and First Light inspect yearlings separately and then come together to compare our short lists,” Wilson explains. “I Am Eloquent looked like you could almost throw a saddle on her straight away and was on both our lists, and, what’s more, we’d purchased a handy type from Two Bays a couple of years earlier and had plenty of respect for the farm.
“To top it all off, we were keen to get our hands on another I Am Invincible filly – especially one that’s VOBIS qualified – after Bold Arial had shown plenty of ability for us early.
“The budget was set at $200,000 but the I Am Invincibles are not that easy to buy these days so we went the one bid extra. It proved to be a worthwhile punt given the result on Saturday!”
Wilson reveals that the celebrations weren’t confined to Caulfield either.
“Our bloodstock manager, Ashleigh Dowley, had really liked I Am Eloquent at the sales too and she’s currently on holidays in Italy,” Wilson adds. “Ashleigh had to watch the race on her iPhone and there’s photos all over Instagram of her doing fist pumps!”
First Light’s Racing manager, Catherine O’Dea, had to be content with watching the race from afar too, having given up her ticket for a family member, but was confident the filly would put on a good show.
“I had seen I Am Eloquent the week before and she galloped really well,” O’Dea reveals. “I can’t honestly say I thought she’d win but it didn’t come as any great surprise when she did.”
Apart from her role at First Light, O’Dea has even more reason to be cheering on the syndicator’s newest stakes winner – particularly as her father, Peter, is a shareholder.
“My dad has owned around 90 horses over the last 30 years and his best runner, Nine Mile Sniper, won a couple of picnic trophies, but I told him he needed to get a decent horse and should take a share in the I Am Invincible filly,” O’Dea points out. “It’s fairly safe to say that, as of Saturday, I’m now his favourite child.
“Problem is that my mum, Connie, is wondering why she didn’t get offered a share! I did get her into a Lonhro filly though and she could end up being a Magic Millions contender.”
Becoming the 48th stakes winner for Yarraman Park’s super sire, I Am Invincible, I Am Eloquent is the third foal of Choisir’s stakes winner and Group Two placed mare, Choice Words, who hails from a rock solid North American family.
Bred by Two Bays Farm, the Mornington Peninsula based operation wisely decided to keep a share in I Am Eloquent after she was knocked down to First Light, Busuttin Racing and Paul Willetts.
Established in 2012 by Melbourne businessman, Ross Ferris, Two Bays Farm has been managed by Rob Carlile for the last five years and the stud’s successful ‘graduates’ include last season’s 3-time stakes winner, Military Zone, 2019 Group One JJ Atkins runnerup, Kubrick and stakes winner, Easy Eddie, who was Group One Galaxy placed in March.
“As soon as it started raining at Caulfield on Saturday, I knew she (I Am Eloquent) would run well. It was absolutely pouring the night she foaled and I remember me and my wife, Jo, having to carry the foal’s big, wet arse into the boxes!,” Carlile says with a laugh.
“Saturday’s result was terrific for the farm and full marks to the team, current and past, who have been part of the ride – (wife) Jo, the yearling manager, Brad, farmer, Mario, our farrier Josh Townsend and vet, Marcus Valmadre.”
With Choice Words’ first two foals – Wonder Express (Hong Kong) and Sun Fei (Singapore) – both racing overseas, Two Bays has retained her 2YO Dissident filly who is now in work with Daniel Bowman at Warrnambool.
“She missed to Impending last spring but she’s just come with a positive to National Defense, who is standing his first season at Sun Stud. National Defense is by Invincible Spirit so hopefully the resultant foal will be as good as I Am Eloquent.”